How To Keep Rats Away When Camping [12 Proven Methods]

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Summers are such a great time of the year. You get to spend some quality time outdoors; hiking, swimming, and camping. But how to keep rats away when camping? Because summers are also the perfect occasion for rats and other pests to enjoy some outdoor activities.

The following are the most effective method to keep rats away when camping.

  • Inspect the camping gear before leaving
  • Clean the camp and the surrounding area
  • Place food items or trash outside the camp
  • Do not eat near the sleeping area
  • Purchase a tent with the floor
  • Place glue traps
  • Use rat repellents
  • Place sharp-smelling things around tents
  • Well-lit the area surrounding the camp
  • Check your vehicle for rat invasion
  • Have a pet around
  •  Make a loud noise

Read the complete article and be prepared for your upcoming camping trip.

How To Keep Rats Away When Camping
How To Keep Rats Away When Camping

Methods To Keep Rats Away When Camping

It is slightly complicated and challenging to manage and keep yourself, your family, and your belongings, especially food and clothes, safe from the rats. The following twelve tips will ensure that you have safe rat-free camping.

Method#1 Inspect The Camping Gear Before Leaving

Camping Gear

Camping is a slightly challenging way of spending time outdoors, so you should be prepared. Carefully examine your camping gear before leaving. Ensure that the tent has no holes or tears in it. Although, rats have sharp teeth to tear through the tent.

But you do not have to provide them with easy access.

Check your sleeping bags for holes and tears. Apart from food, a sleeping bag is a common target of rats as it provides them with nesting material. Always carry extra flashlights and batteries along with you. Plus, it is necessary that you thoroughly clean the gears.

Method#2 Clean The Camp and the Surrounding Area


When you arrive at the location, choose a clean place to set your tent. Dirty places with many wild bushes are usual hiding places for wild animals and rats.

Remember, filthy areas attract rats because of plenty of food and nesting areas. After selecting the camping area, remove any trash and set your camp.

Make sure that you are slightly far from hollow or unhealthy trees. These trees provide hiding space for animals like rats and raccoons. If you are camping on one site for a long time, make sure that you regularly clean the tent and the utensils.

Method#3 Never Place Food Items Outside The Tent

Food Items Outside The Tent

Food is the principal source of pest attraction to your camps. Rats invade any food place, and tents with edible inside will be an easy source of food. Therefore, you must keep the food items outside the tents or sleeping or resting areas. From my experience, I recommend you store your food items inside your car.

Carry coolers or insulated freezers with you to keep the food inside them. Food in plastic bags and containers inside the cooler will limit its aroma from spreading to the surrounding. Even if you are backpacking, place the food item outside your tent in tightly secured rodent-proof bags inside your backpack or bear canister.

Method#4 Do Not Eat Near The Sleeping Area

From my experience, I recommend you eat your food at least twenty feet away from your sleeping site. Rats have sensitive olfactory receptors and can smell food from miles away.

Eating inside your tent or in the area around will attract the rats, and you will have an uninvited visitor in the middle of the night nibbling on the leftover crumbs.

This visitor can also tear your tent and sleeping bag and eat your stored food item. If you have a barbecue, it is better to cook and eat food on one side and set your tent on the opposite side.

Method#5 Purchase A Tent with The Floor

_Tent with The Floor

Rats are gnawing mammals that can chew everything. They can even dig holes inside the concrete walls, so making a hole inside the tent is effortless for rats.

However, using a tent with a floor will limit the entry of rats inside the tent. It will not completely stop rats’ entrance but will restrict it for the time being. Additionally, it will keep other insects, worms, mosquitoes, and even snakes out of your tent.

Method#6 Have A Pet Around


Having a friend while camping is fun and refreshing for both; you and the pet. You will not have to worry about the pet left behind. A pet along with you while camping or hiking is effective in keeping rats and other wild animals away. Rats can smell cats or dogs from feet away and will probably never come near your camping site.

Method#7 Well-lit The Area Surrounding The Camp

Rats are most active at night, and they do not like humans. If you have a well-lit camping area, rats will avoid it. Because when the lights are on, they think of it as a human activity.

It is better to purchase lights that are designed to keep rats away. A flashlight will not be as effective, but there are some positive reviews on using an LED string light for keeping rats away. Hang a few strings of LED lights on your camping tent or camping RV.

Method#8 Make A Loud Noise

Creating loud noises or playing something on your device will keep rats away from the camping site because they are scared of humans and will avoid places with human activities.

You can announce or declare your area by stamping your feet or moving around after every hour or a few at night.

Method#9 Place Rat Traps

Rat Traps

Rat traps are the oldest and most effective way of getting rid of rats from your camping site. There are three types of traps glue traps, snap traps, and live traps.

Glue traps are the most common, but it is also inhumane to use them. Typically rats die from skin peeling from the glue trap. Do not use glue traps unless you are sure that area has a rat infestation.

Snap traps are inexpensive and kill rats quickly. The drawback is the snap is strong. Therefore, you must be careful and keep it out of children’s and pets’ reach. Live traps are simple to set up. Plus, it is the most ethical way to get rid of rats. A live trap will catch and trap the rat. After every few hours, check the live trap and release the rat far from the camping site.

Method#10 Use Rat Repellents


Using rat repellent is another productive way of removing the rat from your camping site. There is a variety of things you can use to get rid of rats. On one of my camping trips, I used ammonia-soaked cotton balls, which also kept my camping site rodent-free.

Dryer sheets are also a cheap and effective way of getting rid of rats. The dryer sheets have a strong smell which keeps the rats away. When none of the above is available, you can purchase mothballs. The chemical scent from the mothball will ensure that no rat comes near your tent.

Method#11 Place Sharp-smelling Things Around Tents.

Coffee Grounds

Rats have a sharp smell sense. They will avoid coming near the area with the strong smell of things they hate. There are many natural scents, including peppermint, eucalyptus, garlic, onion, hot pepper, clover, and ground coffee, that rats despise. You can either place these things on your camping site or make a mixture and spray it on the surrounding.

Additionally, you can use essential oils, the most common and easily accessible. You can use peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, and citronella oil. Take one cup of water and add two drops of the essential oil of your choice. Dip the cotton balls inside the mixture and place these cotton balls inside your tent and in its surrounding.

Method#12 Check Your Vehicle for Rat Invasion

When traveling and camping inside a vehicle, you must inspect the RV or car every morning for rat invasion. Before checking the RV or vehicle, open the hood and trunk and let it air out for a maximum of twenty minutes. Then carefully examine all the parts, including the air inlet and engine.

How To Keep Rats Away While Sleeping?


Many people complain that rats attack them while sleeping. So, you can use some tips to avoid rats while sleeping. Essential oils are not only used for better sleep but are equally effective in getting rid of rats. Peppermint oil is the most powerful out of all the essential oil in removing rats.

Just soak a few cotton balls in a mixture of water and peppermint oil. Place these cotton balls inside your tent or RV and the surrounding area. Then go and have a peaceful night’s sleep without any disturbance from critters.

What Food Kills Rats Instantly?

Baking Soda

Baking soda kills rats within minutes. However, you should avoid killing animals until it becomes necessary. Use flour or peanut butter as bait and mix baking soda with it. You will find a dead rat within twenty minutes near your camping site.

Rats cannot digest baking soda as it produces gas, and they have no natural way of releasing gas. Therefore, leading to death. This trick can also be utilized when there are no rat traps available.

What Smell Kills Rats Instantly?

Rats have a sharp sense of smell. They avoid places with pungent aroma around them. The smell that can kill a rat is the smell of ammonia. Mix half a cup of ammonia in one cup of water.

You can also add detergent to it. Place this bowl of the solution near the camping site. You can also place ammonia-soaked rags inside your tent or the camping site.

What Will Deter A Rat?


Many things will keep rats away from your camping site, including garlic cloves, onion, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil-soaked cotton balls, ammonia, moth balls, dryer sheet, and even pet cats and dogs.

Rats can smell the presence of these things from miles or feet away and will avoid invading your caping location, leaving you in peace.

Does Vinegar Keep Rats Away?

White Vinegar

Vinegar is a cheap way to remove rats. It has a sharp smell that will keep rats away, but it is not as effective as using essential oil. You can spray vinegar around your camping site.

You can also make rat poison by mixing baking powder and vinegar. It creates carbon dioxide gas which kills rats within minutes.

Does Food Attract Rats To Camping Sites?

The main reason rats are attracted to the camping site is the food. Research by Alex Dorfman and David Eilam on the social behavior of starving rats highlights that all the life decisions of rats depend on the availability of food, and they will occupy places near the food source.

Food inside your tent or vehicle will attract rats, and it will do anything to get access to it. Rats are keen eaters and can chew through many things, including plastic containers. That is why it is recommended to ring coolers or portable freezers on the camping and store food in rodent-proof bags.

What To Do When Rat Enters Your Camping Tent?

When a rat invades your camping site, there is no need to panic. You can use a mixture of water and hot pepper or water and essential oil. Spray it on the rat to get rid of it.

Plus, creating a loud sound will also scare away the rat. If the rat has tear holes inside the tent, fix them immediately using the wire mesh. To avoid another visit by the rat, use rat repellents or board.


It is better that you go prepared to the camping site instead of panicking later. Rats invasion is a common problem among campers. Therefore, it is better to search ahead for the issues you will face in an area ahead of leaving.

Always double-check your gears to ensure no holes, tears, or cracks. Carry a travel freezer and rodent-proof bags to store food items because rats can chew through the plastic containers.

A tent with a floor might be slightly heavy to carry, but it is worth it. It limits rats and another insect invasion. It is also better to bring some rat repellents and sprays along.


Alex Dorfman, David Eilam, The hierarchy of food, sociality, and experience in spatial decision-making by food-deprived rats, Behavioural Processes, Volume 157, 2018, Pages 1-6, ISSN 0376-6357.